BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | The estranged wife of Mark Weinberger says she's confident the 46-year-old former Merrillville physician will be brought to justice in the U.S.
Two days after Italian authorities apprehended Weinberger from his mountain campsite, Michelle Kramer said says she is delighted that he is in custody.
Kramer, who filed for divorce and now lives in Birmingham, Ala. where she went to work this fall as an intern in a psychology program at the University of Alabama, said she was contacted by "America's Most Wanted" after his capture was reported in Italian media.
In a statement read to The Associated Press on Friday, she said Weinberger's actions and "cowardice have adversely affected the lives of many people."
Weinberger remains in the city of Turin, where is held in a detainee section of the Molinette hospital where he is being treated for wounds suffered when he stabbed himself in the neck as he was taken into custody.
The Associated Press reported it was not clear when Weinberger would be discharged.
On Thursday, Col. Guido Di Vita, of Italy's Arma dei Carabinieri, or Corps of Carbineers, said Weinberger would taken to be questioned by Turin's appeal court magistrate.
A U.S. treaty with Italy requires extradition proceedings to begin within 40 days, said local personal injury lawyer Kenneth J. Allen. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are working on the flood of paperwork required to request extradition, said David Capp, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.
Capp said proceedings to extradite Weinberger could take a year or more. However, Allen said, if Weinberger waives extradition, he could be returned to the U.S. as soon as February or March.
Authorities believe the former physician likely was trying to make his way into Switzerland when he was apprehended at a camp site some 6,000 feet above sea level at the foot of Val Ferret near Mont Blanc in the Aosta Valley in northern Italy. His capture comes more than five years after he left Kramer behind on his 79-foot powerboat while the couple was vacationing in Mykonos, Greece.
The subject of a federal investigation, Weinberger in 2006 was indicted by a federal grand jury seated in Hammond and charged with 22 counts of health care fraud, and is the target of hundreds of civil lawsuits across Northwest Indiana that allege malpractice.
Weinberger's time in the Aosta Valley -- in the northwestern-most region of Italy -- dates back to the summer, when he rented an apartment in the town of Courmayeur, authorities said. Di Vita said Weinberger's arrival in a fancy car with Monte Carlo license plates and accompanied by a driver drew some notice in the town of about 3,000 people.
In August, Weinberger stopped paying rent and disappeared, Di Vita said. Authorities are investigating where Weinberger spent the time in between, Di Vita said.
Published reports show that a personal computer and a cell phone were found in the residence.
Italian authorities were alerted to Weinberger's camp site by a mountain guide. Another guide who helped police find Weinberger on Friday told The Associated Press he had noticed ski traces and followed them until they saw man standing outside a tent near a cliff.
The guide said it was strange to see someone camping in the area during this time of year because temperatures are below zero.
The guide, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said Weinberger appeared confused when the police approached him and did not seem to understand Italian well. But Weinberger did have the gear needed to trek in the snowy mountains including high-tech shoes and a sleeping bag as well as a camping stove to melt the snow, he said.
It wasn't clear how long Weinberger had been in Italy, or if he had retained an attorney there. No other details were immediately available.
Merrillville attorney James Hough, who represents Weinberger, said Friday he hadn't been in contact with his client since he disappeared five years ago. He said there were about 300 claims filed by patients against the physician, but declined to comment further.
Weinberger's patients in the United States, who have been waiting for years to tell a court they believe the doctor misdiagnosed them, botched surgeries or hastily performed the wrong procedures, hoped his capture will mean their lawsuits can finally go forward.
"We want him ... to look these people in the eye and explain why he did this," said Allen, who represents around 60 families accusing Weinberger of negligence.